Rebels Without a Cause

In 1955 James Dean starred in a movie about a troubled teen from a troubled family who gets provoked into a game of “chicken” with a local bully. Is that what’s happening in Washington?

Congress is deadlocked. The government shutdown and impending debt limit are disrupting peoples’ lives and potentially the global economy. We’ve discussed before how political dysfunction in Washington could derail our modest economic expansion. Laws currently on the books need to be reauthorized or expanded periodically, but by not doing this, Democrats and Republicans are both playing “chicken” with the economy.

In the movie, James Dean and a local bully drive stolen cars towards a cliff. The first one to jump before out is deemed “chicken” and loses face with the local gang. Tragically, the bully’s leather jacket gets caught in the car door and he goes over the edge. Could Congress and the President similarly have something unexpectedly go wrong that would send our economy over a cliff?

At one point Dean turns to his bickering parents and yells, “You’re tearing me apart!” That’s about how I feel about this crisis. Just get it done.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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